EBU NEWS published on 20 Mar 2017 • Department / Unit Digital Media Radio Media

Graham Dixon examines ‘what is radio‘ at Radiodays Europe

The EBU's Head of Radio has welcomed delegates at the annual Radiodays Europe event in Amsterdam with a speech addressing what radio means in 2017.

"In the past, there was a simple answer, a box with a receiver and speaker - not now," he told 1500 partipants from 62 countries. "With so many sources of audio, what is radio? We need a new definition."

Dixon went on to discuss the how new technology, such as the smart home devices from Amazon and Google, is providing new channels.

"Any new definition cannot comment about how people listen, but rather it should focus on what radio does. Traditionally, radio provides us with education, information and entertainment. The traditional definition is still true; in this post-truth world, access to a range of opinions and views is more important than ever. However, this definition is incomplete. It fails to mention that radio also provides them with company, with identity and gives them a voice. Whether it occupies the public or the commercial space, radio creates a community, and creates that community by providing contact with events around them and in the wider world. More than this, radio can itself create the event, connecting people with each other and with music and ideas."

The speech continued to examine the role of conventional broadcasting in a digital age. 

"We need conventional broadcasting for three reasons," Dixon argued. "Security – in an uncertain world, we cannot risk hacking or shut-down precisely at the moments when we most need information. Social exclusion – the one-off payment for a radio receiver overrides the digital divide. Gatekeepers – companies controlling the platforms and choosing which content and stations should be available or prioritized for commercial reasons, or following an invisible algorithm."

"What is radio?," he concluded. "It's the audio-based delivery of content in response to human curiosity and the need for connection. We need to connect with others, hear their views, and express our own; and as humans, we have exceptional curiosity. Our curiosity and need for connective have brought us to Amsterdam. Connection and curiosity are precisely the reasons our medium exists and remains in good health."

During Radioday, the EBU is also organising a meeting of the European Digital Radio Alliance, broadcasters both public and commercial committed to the promotion of digital radio across Europe. Additionally, new leaders from Belgian French Member RTBF and RTV Slovenia have been enabled to attend the event as a learning experience, developing their understanding of the medium.  

The new dotRADIO top level domain name will also be  promoted to the Radiodays audience, as a way of joining a community of internet domains, expressly dedicated to the radio sector across the globe.